Yesterday I posted about my current audiobook read, The Story of Human Language (Audible Audio). The pdf includes Essential Reading at the end of every chapter. And at the end of lecture 3, How Language Changes—Sound Change, to my surprise, a book is listed that I have actually read!
In this hymn to the mother tongue Bill Bryson examines how a language treated for centuries as the inadequate and second-rate tongue of peasants has now become the undisputed global language.
Written with his usual humour, Bill Bryson tells you everything you ever wanted to know about how the English language came to be what it is today. Funny and informative, but sometimes he gets a bit carried away. 17 pages on spelling is just a bit excessive.
Bryson is another author that I want to revisit.
Another book about the topics of the English language that has been lingering on my TBR pile for quite some time:
What is good English, and why do we need it? “The Queen’s English” shows how the English language, used properly, has great power to instruct, move and entertain people, but used incorrectly, can lead to a lack of clarity and confusion. This book informs in a light-hearted way, reminding readers how to use the basics of grammar, punctuation and spelling, as well as further teaching them new tips and tricks of style, rhetoric and vocabulary. The book also shows the perils of using language incorrectly, offering extremely (if unintentionally) humorous examples of where bad English can cause one thing to mean something entirely different!
From the book blurb
Maybe I will manage to get to this book in 2021! It‘s been on my shelf for nine years, which is the reason why I added it to my TBR Bingo card!
Talking about Bill Bryson, these are the two books of his that I have read… I could swear there was more, but I am not sure what book it was — maybe In a Sunburned Country?
There are 6,000 languages in the world, in so much variety that many languages would leave English speakers wondering just how a human being could possibly learn and use them.
From the scope of the book / pdf supplement of the audio
I listened to the first two lectures already, What Is Language? and When Language Began. By the sound of it this seem to be actual lectures, held by the author. There are reactions from the audience and clapping. It makes for a different listening experience than listening to a professionally narrated book. The author, aka lecturer, is a proficient and coherent speaker. However, the experience is a bit more organic than usual.
The part about Chomsky in the second lecture was new to me and the notion that humans are somehow programmed to speak makes sense to me.
The basis of Chomsky’s linguistic theory lies in biolinguistics, the linguistic school that holds that the principles underpinning the structure of language are biologically preset in the human mind and hence genetically inherited.
Accordingly, Chomsky argues that language is a unique evolutionary development of the human species and distinguished from modes of communication used by any other animal species.
Wikipedia about Chomsky
So far, so interesting. We‘ll see if I‘ll manage to work my way through 36 lectures.
First Line Friday is a meme created by Hoarding Books. Feel free to head over there, have a look around, grab a book and post its first line in the comments there and in your blog.
“When I was a kid, my aspirations were simple. I wanted a dog. I wanted a house that had stairs in it— two floors for one family. I wanted, for some reason, a four-door station wagon instead of the two-door Buick that was my father’s pride and joy. I used to tell people that when I grew up, I was going to be a pediatrician.“
Michelle Obama‘s memoir, from her early childhood to the end of her second term as FLOTUS. I listened to the audiobook, as she narrated it herself. Mostly entertaining. About halfway through the audiobook I watched the Netflix rendition of her Becoming book tour. Equally entertaining.
Obviously she has a lot of important things to say about empowerment, education, equal rights—you name it—, but my primary interest really was to get to know her a little better and look behind the facade. Reading about the banana yellow car of her husband, for example. Or about going to couple‘s counseling. And I enjoyed the ride quite a bit, up until the part where she and her husband embarked on their presidential campaign. The technicalities of an electoral campaign and the politics did not interest me very much and the mentioning of memorable events throughout both terms felt a bit like ticking off a checklist at times. I could have done without the eight years of office, as they were glanced over pretty quickly and held little engaging content. I would have been quite happy, if the book had finished on the day Barack Obama was elected as POTUS. But I guess that wasn’t really an option. Still, overall this was pretty good.
The one where they settle further into their life in Alexandria and where Rick looses it. Civilization does not agree with out heroes.
This is were I started to loose interest in the TV adaptation. The comic was ok, but the story did not really grab me. It took me two months to get through this, putting it down chapter after chapter and almost forgetting about it.
This Week’s Topic:New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2020. Create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.)… Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you!
Well, I am done with looking at my reading from 2020 and generally try to use memes to find a more interesting way of posting my backlog to this blog. So, how about new-to-me authors that got 5 stars from me, regardless of the year I read them in (and with reviews that I haven‘t posted here yet…).
Framboise is running a creperie in a small village in rural France. She spent her childhood years during WWII in this village, but nobody knows that. She now lives under another name, to protect a dark secret in her past. One day her nephew and his wife appear at her doorstep, to ask for the use of her name and recipes. When she refuses – to protect her true identity – she quickly realises that they will stop at nothing to get those recipes. But she is not easily defeated. And while she struggles against her nephew, she tells us her story….. Very good book, recommended! Great storytelling. This, by the way, is the author of “Chocolat“.
Great fun. Don’t let the zombies get your brains. If you liked the film Zombieland, this is for you. I already read the second book of the series and it was so-so. This time around I liked two main characters much better. Classic plot — outbreat, lots of gore, shooting, biting, brains and running. Don’t expext any deep thoughts.
I really like the artwork. No, I love it. The further I got into this, the more I liked it. I could just stop myself from getting the next volume, while I was still reading this one. I compromised, it’s on my wishlist. It didn‘t help that there were some teasers at the end of this volume. Grrrr.
The characters are spot-on anatomically and consistent, the women (mostly) don‘t look like bimbos, the guys (mostly) look like nerds, I really like the colour work as well… it‘s refreshing.
On top of that there is a good plot with a decent set-up, excellent humour and nice world building somewhere in the middle. I was sucked into the story right away. And I want to continue so much. But first I need to read a ton of other comics… I joined up at comiXology. I am so doomed! Who mentioned this website anyway? You are fired!
Did I mention that I really like the artwork? 5 stars with brains on top.
The Regeneration Trilogy: I read these books in the late ’90s, after Ghost Road was first published. I was in love with the British war poets of WWI at the time and this fit right in. I don’t remember many details, but these books were great reads. Very athmospheric, accessible and captivating main characters, I suffered with them every step of the way.
Great space opera with epic battles. Great pacing, a lot of suspense, very graphic, believable, hard to put down.
A little confusing at times: The multitude of characters. Sometimes I had to go back a page or so to remind myself from whose perspective the story is being told. But eventually, as I got deeper into the plot, it stopped being an issue.
The characters are well drawn and believable. They are also interesting and not one-dimensional at all. I wouldn’t mind meeting some of them in real life. Even the aliens aren’t just the big, evil monsters, but actual personalities.
My reason for choosing this book: The blurp recommending it on the front cover was by Patricia Briggs.
Geat fun! I almost read it in a day. The next one of the series is out already and I will definitely get it. Our heroine is a bounty hunter for all things that go bump in the night. There are shapeshifters, vampires, bridge trolls, the fey…
Nothing really unusual or terribly new, but an entertaining read nonetheless, if you like Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs or Carrie Vaughn.
This was fun, especially the inner monologue of our Murderbot.
In just 160 pages the author managed to build a believable world with lively and varied characters and an entertaining plot. This is a winner!
And in their corner all they had was Murderbot, who just wanted everyone to shut up and leave it alone so it could watch the entertainment feed all day.
That could be me on any given day.
Lots of potential. Is Murderbot a real person or not? The awkwardness of the crew, trying to figure out the correct way of interacting with Murderbot, once they realized that perhaps there is a person behind that opaque faceplate, was pretty priceless.
And Murderbot’s horror at their attempts to interact! Talking to the humans! And feelings, oh no!
I tried not to assign a gender to Murderbot. I don’t want to use “it” as a personal pronoun and I am not a fan of “they”. Tricky. I am leaning towards using “him”, not quite sure why. Well, actually, because I pictured him as the android in the Prometheus movies, aka Michael Fassbender.
I read this in my early teens, several times. And then I read a ton of other horse-related YA novels. I guess it is a phase all reading girls go through, same as playing with Barbie dolls. I loved it very much.
Well drawn characters, good story telling, started the second book immediately after putting this one down. The only thing that annoyed me – the characters speak with a Scottish accent. I found that very distracting, but got used to it eventually. I had one of my Scottish work colleagues read out some passages to me one day, which was pretty funny….
Pretty eclectic list of the ages, from my teens to now…
I didn‘t post anything since last Sunday. That‘s what happens, when you read a doorstopper, listen to a longish audiobook at the same time and watch too much TV.
I am still reading Revelation by C.J. Sansom and listening to Becoming by Michelle Obama for my #ReadPOC2021 challenge. I would like to finish both of them in January, but I am doubtful. Work is pretty stressful right now and I tend to watch more TV and read less, when that happens. Disney+ is quite entertaining… 😝 I am enjoying WandaVision and The Mandalorian. And then there is The Expanse on Netflix…
Anyway, I give you the first paragraph of Becoming:
„When I was a kid, my aspirations were simple. I wanted a dog. I wanted a house that had stairs in it— two floors for one family. I wanted, for some reason, a four-door station wagon instead of the two-door Buick that was my father’s pride and joy. I used to tell people that when I grew up, I was going to be a pediatrician.“
From the book
I liked the first part of the book. I am about halfway now and we reached the part where Barak Obama is starting some serious campaigning, which I find less interesting.
First Line Friday is a meme created by Hoarding Books. Feel free to head over there, have a look around, grab a book and post its first line in the comments there and in your blog.
So, finding something that interests me for February is going to be a tough one. Scientists that fit the bill are seriously under-represented. Or I am very oblivious, take your pick. I am leaning towards space and the universe at large, natural history, Earth‘s history, the oceans, … I suppose it could be a memoir or biography of a scientist falling under the BIPOC heading.
“When the struggle to save oil-soaked birds and restore blackened beaches left him feeling frustrated and helpless, John Francis decided to take a more fundamental and personal stand—he stopped using all forms of motorized transportation. Soon after embarking on this quest that would span two decades and two continents, the young man took a vow of silence that endured for 17 years. It began as a silent environmental protest, but as a young African-American man, walking across the country in the early 1970s, his idea of “the environment” expanded beyond concern about pollution and loss of habitat to include how we humans treat each other and how we can better communicate and work together to benefit the earth.“
“Southern food is integral to the American culinary tradition, yet the question of who “owns” it is one of the most provocative touch points in our ongoing struggles over race. In this unique memoir, culinary historian Michael W. Twitty takes readers to the white-hot center of this fight, tracing the roots of his own family and the charged politics surrounding the origins of soul food, barbecue, and all Southern cuisine.“
And several other lists and blog posts lead me to Lauret Savoy and her book Trace. From the book blurb:
“Through personal journeys and historical inquiry, this PEN Literary Award finalist explores how America’s still unfolding history and ideas of “race” have marked its people and the land.“
“A provocative and powerful mosaic that ranges across a continent and across time, from twisted terrain within the San Andreas Fault zone to a South Carolina plantation, from national parks to burial grounds, from “Indian Territory” and the U.S.–Mexico Border to the U.S. capital, Trace grapples with a searing national history to reveal the often unvoiced presence of the past.“
Still, those three books are more memoirs and histories than something I would lump under the heading scientific non-finction. So, I am stumped. I am open to suggestions!
„The high chandeliers in the Great Hall of Lincoln’s Inn were ablaze with candles, for it was late afternoon when the play began. Most members of Lincoln’s Inn were present, the barristers in their robes and their wives in their best costumes. After an hour standing watching, my back was starting to ache, and I envied the few elderly and infirm members who had brought stools.“
I read the first chapter last night and just embarked into chapter two. No corpses yet! My old edition has 629 pages. This will take a while! Bizarrely, the book smells of Christmas cookies… 🍪
“Minister Shea Ashcroft refuses the queen’s order to gas a crowd of protesters. After riots cripple the capital, he’s exiled to Owenbeg, a duchy bordering the kingdom of Duma, to oversee the construction of the biggest anti-airship tower in history. Shea doesn’t want the task, but sees it as the only way to reclaim his life.“
We start our trip on an airship. And we come in contact with advanced, „other“ technology. It doesn‘t really fit the bill for Steampunk, but is reminiscent of it at first.
The prologue was very clunky and hard to get into, heavy on adverbs. Luckily, once the main narrative started, the story telling got a lot smoother. However, part two started just as clunky as part one.
I had a hard time picturing the settings. The prose was very flowery, but not as descriptive as I would’ve liked. The language was very modern despite the fantasy setting, which is unusual and did not sit particularly well with me. I also felt as if I was missing part of the story or a prequel.
The author packed a lot into 200 pages. I didn‘t mind that so much. I actually think he could have done a more thorough job with the world building, even in such a short book / novella. The pacing felt off for me as well. Telling so much of the backstory in paragraphs alternating with the present storyline so far towards the ending did not flow well.
The idea was intriguing, but I never really got immersed in the storytelling or connected with the characters. I did not like the style and skimmed the last part of the story. Sorry, this wasn‘t for me. Pretty cover though! Maybe I have to try and re-read this another time, when I am more in the mood for such a meandering style.
I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you!
In the 2000s I read the first two Shardlake books, followed by book 3 in 2011.
„The Shardlake series is a series of historical mystery novels by C. J. Sansom, set in the reign of Henry VIII in the 16th century.The series’ protagonist is the hunchbacked lawyer Matthew Shardlake, […]. Shardlake works on commission initially from Thomas Cromwell in Dissolution and Dark Fire, Archbishop Thomas Crannmer in Sovereign and Revelation, and Queen Catherine Parr in Heartstone and Lamentation. The seventh book, Tombland, was published in October 2018.“
This is the first one of the Matthew Shardlake books. It was very, very good! Good suspense, pretty gory, I kept going “Ewwww!” Sansom likes to be descriptive and he does it well. Not only for yucky, violent moments, but also descriptions of characters, smells, sounds, sights and situations. Very good.
Pretty solid historical crime novel. Very atmospheric. I wonder how anybody ever managed to live in London long enough for it to develop into my favourite city on the planet. The stink and disgusting sights described are priceless. The crime story was sufficiently tricky for me not to guess who-dunnit until the end. Every now and then it got a bit tedious, reading about Shardlake riding from one interview to the next interview to the next interview to the next interview…. Did I mention that he was riding around London a lot? And across it? And along it. And…. you get the picture.
Mysterious things are afoot in the town of York. A conspiracy of major proportions is tucked away somewhere.
As usual with Sansom, the story is alive with the sounds and smells of Tudor England. Descriptions are excellent. It’s easy to get immersed into his world, you can almost feel, taste and especially smell it.
We walked to Stonegate as the sun rose up and the city came to life, keeping under the eaves as people opened their windows and threw the night’s piss into the streets.
Page 122 of my edition
There is a surprising amount of swearing going on for historical novels.
When I read his books, it always makes me sad to contemplate how many beautiful things Henry VIII destroyed with his dissolution.
I keep jumping back to the computer to read up on historic events and characters mentioned in the books, it’s always a very educational experience for me.
The whole question of succession regarding Richard III, the princes in the tower and the War of the Roses has always confused me a lot and now I get something else confusing thrown into the mix.
The last 200 pages dragged on a bit for me. At times Sansom’s books seem to be a little too cosy, until the next twist hits you and the plot moves back to nail biting suspense.
And although I rated these novels between 4 and 5 stars, I never continued the series. I wasn‘t in the mood anymore for historical crime novels. Book 4, Revelation by C.J. Sansom, has been sitting on my shelf since 2015. One of my personal challenges for this year is to tackle my TBR pile. So, maybe this year, let‘s see if I still like Shardlake!